By: Craig Stirton
As envy has given way to a quest to discover his life’s purpose, Denian Reid has risen above his circumstances to lead a life rich in experience and achievement.
We all have our go-to coping mechanisms to deal with tumultuous times in our lives. A right-side hemiplegic due to a lack of oxygen during birth, Denian Reid grappled with his emotions while growing up in a world largely occupied by able-bodied individuals. In time though he found two particularly effective means of coping with his circumstances.
“My self-image in my early development was not positive. I constantly compared myself to others and would envy them,” says Reid.
“This has slowly changed over the years; through meditation and spiritual awakening I am slowly starting to find my purpose and the reasons as to why I have been given this ‘Disability’.”
Despite the difficulties an individual with hemiplegia struggles with, such as compromised coordination and limited range of motion on the affected side, sport was a big part of Reid’s life from a young age.
His father – an avid golfer – introduced him to golf at the age of five. As Denian explains though his formative years playing the game were not without significant challenges.
“In the early stage of my golf career, I could not generate enough power in the follow through of the swing which caused a slice. I had to adapt to my left-hand driving/slapping at the ball to create the follow through.”
“I struggle with balance in the downswing. I don’t have the strength in my right leg to balance myself. However, I am lucky to have enough strength in my right-hand to maintain my grip throughout the swing.
Over time, Reid has developed a game, the cornerstone of which is a sound short-game. Coupling this with great putting – the strength of his game – Denian went on to captain Randpark High School’s 1st golf team. His sporting talent wasn’t limited to golf either and it’s also worth noting that he played 1st XI cricket too.
A quality support structure has also been key to the success Reid has enjoyed in his life. The importance of this to a person living with a disability cannot be overstated.
“My parents have never allowed me to use my disability as an excuse, pushing me daily to reach my full potential. They have never allowed me to give up. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them,” he says.
As time has passed, Reid has learnt to look beyond the frustrations associated with his situation and has made significant strides towards self-acceptance.
“My greatest frustration is that my right side operates with a mind of its own. I’ve lost count of how many things my right-hand drops on a daily basis. I have come to terms with the fact that it will happen for the rest of my life and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself when it does.”
Joining the South African Disabled Golf Association earlier this year has also been key to Reid feeling accepted by others.
“I love the people within the organisation. From the players and the people that work tirelessly to make the events happen: Johan Du Plooy, Jodi Schultz and Lily Reich among others have been incredibly welcoming. I have never felt more at home and accepted.”
In the field for the Canon Gauteng Open at Zwartkop Country Club, Reid is targeting a top-3 finish in the Physically-Disabled Strokeplay.
And when, for whatever reason, he experiences negative thoughts or self-doubt on or off the golf course, he needs only glance at his wrist.
“I have a tattoo on my right wrist that says “YOU ARE ENOUGH”, this serves as a constant reminder to not be too hard on myself.”
*Hemiplegia: Hemiplegic cerebral palsy affects motor abilities and muscle tone on one of the body.
Photo: Nic Bothma/Amaza Images
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